Apollo 19 – The Launchpad

This saga began back in 1973….in a quaint west coast town called Tieties Bay, about 100km north of Cape Town. The Plaatjies and Jantjies (pronounced  `Yaainkeys`)families were subsistence fisher folk and the fishing was good in those days. Mr Jantjies caught enough fish in that year to pay for his 16-year-old son to study at NASA in Florida, America. Stilletjie was overjoyed and even more so when his best buddy Pilletjie`s father, a boat captain, caught so much fish that his boat sank slightly and the fish that were in his hold had to swim the stricken trawler home to dock.  He raised so much cash from his haul of clever fish that he could not only pay for Pilletjie to go to the USA as well but he also bought him his first portable electric razor. Pilletjie said that the vibration it made when he switched it on reminded him of a giant rocket as it sat throbbing on its launch pad.

The lads marched confidently into the training base at Cape Canaveral, Florida and reported for duty at the `Department For People Who Are Not Of This Country -` D.F.P.W.A.N.O.T.C for short.

There were 3 crew originally selected for the Apollo 19 mission. The first choice navigator was a chap from the country of Greece. He was young with slicked back black hair. He unfortunately missed the launch as he needed to pee before take-off and as they were all walking along the myriad of gang-ways built around the launch tower, he peeled off to the left at a MENS REST ROOMS sign and remained jammed in a cubicle. The slot mechanism on the unit`s door had inadvertently misread Navigator Psoploulosdopolis`s drachma coin as a 5 penny and since it only accepted 1 pennies it locked the door permanently with him inside as it`s designed to do.

Pilletjie and Stilletjie continued on and took up their seats in the capsule on top of the steaming rumbling Saturn V rocket. Lying on their backs, their feet above them, like their chairs had tipped back and over at a raucous fisherman`s dinner party.

“Tee-enn, naarn, ee-eyt ….” The metallic sounding Southern  drawl bellowed out the count down, the mighty five engines blasted into life and the huge crowd a mile back over the lake, burst into applause as Apollo 19 rocketed heavenward leaving a trail of thick white smoke – part of the whiteness was caused by incinerated seagulls. Often during a launch the birds would be sexually attracted to the giant phallic symbol on the bright red tower and would peck at its bottom (Main Motor bell  housing).

shuddering and shaking on their backs, the two Afronauts  looked across at each other and both said, at the same time, “Where are we going?” Neither of them were told what the mission was, Psoploulosdopolis was the only one to know their mission and the only one who could navigate them there.

The second question that they both asked more or less simultaneously, sixty-two seconds into the flight, was “Where`s the other guy?”

Mission control spoke for the first time by asking them what time they had as the clocks in the control room had stopped working because of the severe rumbling that was experienced when the main engine start-up sequence initiated.

The last words the lads heard from mission control were ….. “Apollo 19 this is mission control. You are now on your own as your navigator has just walked into the flight centre here and he says he has the maps and the codes for your master nav system…over……….and out”

Pilletjie and Stilletjie looked at each other and without a word, they settled the decision of who should attempt to navigate by using the age-old tradition of rock, paper, scissors.

Stilletjie`s paper wrapped Pilletjies`s rock so Stilletjie carefully licked his thumb, held it up in front of him and closing one eye, lined up the top of his thumb with the moon through the forward inspection window and set their course.

 This Short Story entitled “Apollo 19 – The Launchpad” is copyrighted to the author, Simon J Tatt. No persons may reproduce any part of the story in any way for the purposes of financial gain or for any other reasons without the express permission of Simon J Tatt. Law 6785/67 of the Intrinsic Writers Code of 2009 protects the above mentioned work and any infringement thereof will result in a fine of $20 000 and/or a jail term of between 5 and 7 years. The offender will also be required to peel 100 000 potatoes using only an inflatable dinghy.


~ by Simon Tatt on August 8, 2010.

2 Responses to “Apollo 19 – The Launchpad”

  1. When do we get more?

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